mast-saw-cuttingThe Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.  For a short time, my father helped build the road through North Dakota.  I even visited his work site, and watched him cut the concrete after it was poured.  (To my young mind, I couldn’t figure out why they would cut a perfectly new slab!)

 According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for May 4, 2014, “New legislation could lead to interstate tolls.”

TollBoothThe sub-headline reads, “A potential replacement for gasoline tax,” and there is the rub.  Have you ever heard of any tax being replaced?  No, the tax remains, and in this case, a new charge is added.

It would become “Interstate toll PLUS gasoline tax.”

As I understood it, Federal taxes paid for the original Interstate system construction.  Then, each state became responsible for maintaining its section.  I am not sure, but don’t we now pay federal AND state gasoline taxes!  Obviously, some of those tax monies are being siphoned off for other uses.  Spend the taxes collected for fixing the roads, not building swimming pools, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Here is how the Post Gazette reports it: “The transportation legislation sent to Congress by President Barack Obama this week includes language that would allow states to impose tolls on highways that currently are free, with approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. . . . A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said tolls could someday replace the gasoline tax as the principal method for funding transportation projects.”

Replace?  Ain’t gonna happen.

The article includes this key argument: “Tolling has proven to be an inefficient mechanism for collecting transportation revenue, consuming up to 20 percent of revenue generated, and those paying the toll may not even see that road improved because the president’s plan would allow toll revenue to go to other projects in the state,” said Miles Morin, spokesman for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates. “Tolling existing interstates is inefficient, causes traffic diversion and increases supply chain costs that hurt businesses and consumers. Transportation infrastructure needs improvements, but of all the ways to fund them, tolling existing interstates is the worst.”


InterstateHere is another key point: “The federal government has, for the most part, prohibited tolls since the Interstate Highway System was conceived in the 1950s.”  The whole idea was to allow traffic to travel smoothly and uninterrupted, not to have it stopped every five miles for a toll booth!

Some sort of electronic EZ-Pass system might be created, but don’t count on it.  What about the casual user who is unfamiliar with such things?

Once the camel gets its nose in the tent, Katey bar the door!  Look for the abuse which is sure to follow.

Ike is rolling in his grave.



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